May 13, 2015
Inge Lehmann’s 127th Birthday
Editor’s note: News of a second major earthquake within a short time in Nepal today provides a sad context to this post -- and reminds us of the importance of science in predicting earthquakes so that more lives can be saved.
At the turn of the twentieth century, a teenager in Østerbro, Denmark felt the ground move beneath her feet. It was her first earthquake, but it wouldn’t be her last.
More than two decades of study and observation later, Inge Lehmann’s work sent shockwaves through the scientific community. By observing earthquakes, she discovered the earth has both inner and outer cores. Her work has withstood the test of time. In fact, it’s still the foundation for seismological science today.
Inge used deduction and evidence to discover something unseeable. Today’s Doodle sheds light on her powerful but invisible discovery. Doodler Kevin Laughlin helps us experience the gift Inge illuminated for the world by revealing it as a glowing orb. Not all of his early drafts looked the same, but the earth’s inner core glowed at the center of each.
Pioneers like Inge make this world a better place by helping us understand it from the inside out. But Lehmann’s legacy isn’t just scientific. Having been educated at a very young age in a Copenhagen school that treated female and male students as absolute equals, she was a strong proponent of gender equality. Her pioneering spirit is an inspiration to us as we continue to do more on diversity.